DCSIMG

Season ticket pricing: You have your say

Burnley fans celebrate winning promotion to the Premier League

Burnley fans celebrate winning promotion to the Premier League

I very rarely, if ever, disagree with anything the board do. This though, aggravates me.

Not least because of the apparent disregard the board have given to the finances of the local people. It has been done to death and I don’t wish to saturate the argument even further but really, for a club who tries to prides itself on it’s work with the community- this feels like a very distancing measure.

Furthermore however, I feel that the whole ‘retainer’ scheme is utterly negative. Although I can understand the club’s ambition to want to keep the attendance levels at a healthy number, it is completely misguided to believe that this scheme is the answer.

To put it bluntly, the only way we’ll keep ‘Premier League fans’ is to stay in the Premier League. If United got relegated, they’d lose many-a-thousand fans too. That’s football. That’s the way it is.

So, Burnley Football Club. I appreciate your intention to keep Turf Moor full but I think you are misguided. I’m downtrodden. I’m downtrodden to see a scheme which emanates negativity. I’m sure that wasn’t your aim but by implementing a scheme which indicates such blatant preparation- verging on acceptance- regarding relegation, you have stamped all over the feel-good factor which your hard work has created this season.

So, more than any financial issues- which in themselves are upsetting- I am aggrieved by the negative message we’ve received.

At least our last season in the Premier League, we threw the towel in in January. This time, the play-offs haven’t even finished and we’ve already got the towel in our hand.

Thomas Pickles

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Dear Co – Chairmen and Board of Directors,

I have just bought two season tickets for the James Hargreaves Upper Tier at the full prices. I did so with an extremely heavy heart - this after just enjoying the greatest season in my memory.

I am sure you get bombarded with each fans chronology of their support but to give you some context to my complaint I thought I would set out my position.

I first went to a Burnley game in 1979. I am now 40 years old. I was born in Burnley as were both my brothers and my parents are from Nelson.

My first ‘real’ season was the season we won the old third division under Brian Miller with Stevenson, Laws, Dobson, Steven and Hamilton. For the most part the next 15 years were fairly downhill as you all well know. I have been to over 65 grounds watching Burnley including some dire and god awful games at places like Bristol Rovers, Mansfield, Halifax, Cambridge et al. I was, of course, at the Orient game. I was even at the David Reeves bucket collection game to raise money for transfer funds which I think was a friendly against Huddersfield with an attendance of about 1500.

My work has meant I can’t get to every game and that has been the case for the last 8 years since I have been based and working overseas. Over the years I have bought season tickets when I could get to most games (and could afford the ticket) and haven’t when I moved overseas. However, I did get season tickets when we were last in the Premiership so I could make sure I could get in to Turf Moor if I was in the UK and gave my tickets to my father (also a Burnley fan) when I was away, which was 90% of the season. I regard myself as a loyal fan, I live about 3500 miles from Burnley now, a home match costs me about £1000 (air fares, car hire, etc plus the match itself) and 2/3 days travel. I didn’t get an early bird season ticket but my costs to get to one match generally dwarf the cost anyway. I want to contribute to the club - my kids have all the kits, I spend loads at the club shop over Xmas and I want to buy a season ticket so that (a) I am doing my bit for the club I love so much and (b) if my work permits me to be in the UK during the football season I know I can get in to the stadium whilst Burnley are in the Premiership. I still support the club when they are in the Championship or below but of course with travel costs at approximately £1000 a go I don’t buy a season ticket as well if I know I will be able to get a match ticket which you usually can in the lower divisions. This year I got to two matches QPR away and Ipswich at home – that was it and is what my work and travel schedule would allow. It surely doesn’t mean I am any less loyal – I still enjoyed the wins as much – worried about the team as much and cared as much as I always have done and always will do regardless of whether I am in the ground or not or what division we are in. As an aside it also cost me a fortune.

I am involved in international business as a lawyer. As a football club and a business you are always going to be able to out ‘spin’ the loyal Burnley masses and have an answer for the £200 uplift and the retainer and the reward for ‘loyal’ fans. However, whilst not always the most sophisticated group the Burnley fans and the Burnley people are not stupid and they know when they feel let down, used, abused and treated like idiots. Do we just measure loyalty on what a supporter paid out last year or this year ? We ought not too. My biggest relative financial commitment to following Burnley was probably as a teenager watching, on occasions, garbage football in the lower divisions. Our commitment financial or otherwise will often be shown over a 50+ year period.

I feel extraordinarily saddened by the miss calculation and misunderstanding of what the club really means to us and how we show our commitment and loyalty to the club from our early school years through to our deaths. I feel deeply insulted by the disproportionate increase in ticket prices, the suggestion that ‘loyal’ early bird fans are being rewarded over less loyal or even disloyal fans. What saddens me most is that on the face of it the increases disregard the challenges and sacrifices that the working families in the North West make to stay in touch with their football club. We should not forget that most of us came from these very ordinary backgrounds, the retainer and direct debit schemes have been totally lost in the overriding sentiment that this looks and feels like a terrible and insensitive deal.

I am now in Bahrain, my younger brother works in Poland and my older brother is a nurse in Pendle. My father has just retired after 52 years of work and lives in Trawden. I promised I would get us two adult tickets so between the four of us we could see as many matches as possible – we do anyway but this was to make sure at least two of us could get in to the ground and sit together whilst we are in the Premiership. I have paid up but I have not felt so disheartened and disengaged since the John Bond years.

I really think you should apologise to the fans for the upset this has caused and reconsider the retainer.

A devoted fan – now and always.

Jeremy Ingham

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We now have both a retained players and fans list which is a first. When mistakes happen in business sometimes best to say ‘Sorry, we got it wrong’. Customers feel placated, forgive and often feel better about the ‘offending’ business.

Maybe do the same with the retained plan? For me the season ticket price is too high so I’ll be highly selective and catch up mostly on Sky/BT Sport. A fan since 1959 and been to such exotic places as St James’s Park (Exeter version), Gay Meadow and Spotland; got wet through in the Bee Hole end; oh and Wembly three times.

Guess I’m not much of a fan.

David Leaver

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Burnley Football Club needs to do some serious rethinking of its decision to increase season tickets by a hefty amount and then add on a £100 retainer.

If the prices were bad enough, the whole fiasco has been made worse by some ill thought out comments from Lee Hoos. It seems Burnley Football Club is obsessed with trying to stretch their income to the limit.

Whilst this is understandable in many seasons for a club our size; in light of the huge TV deal that Burnley are now tied into for at least 5 years, it seems a step too far for this season.

Lee Hoos comments have simply compounded the issue, and risked further alienating fans that are already furious at the prices. We are supposed to be a community club, but the only sense of community from Lee Hoos seems to be a Caste System where the club values some fans more than others (“Burnley fans and Premier League fans” – really?).

This may well be the case in private, but publicly the club has to be seen to be treating everyone the same. After all, these are potential customers. The very real danger at the moment is rather than enticing the missing 5,000 to come back the following season, it’s much more likely to put many of them off coming in the first place.

I say all this as a fan who bought a season ticket months ago. I care what this decision means for the club, not for my own pocket.

Sean Cole

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Let me first say that I renewed my ticket during the early bird period. I say this not as a boast, but purely as a statement of neutrality, that this doesn’t directly affect me.

This move by the club is exactly in step with the Premiership we now find ourself a part of. It’s financially astute, yet at the same time disregards fans and is a PR mis-step.

The club are aware that most fans who bought tickets last year will have renewed, and that those who want Premiership football will potentially pay the increase. If they don’t, then we gain through increased on the day gate revenues through that seat selling for more on a per-game basis. And for those who do sign up, it’s likely there’s a chance of a second season renewal and further income due to the retainer.

However, it’s a shame that we’ve chosen to go down this route, and that the club has worded things so clunkily. Within minutes of the announcement, there are screenshots of Twitter feeds and Hoos’ words on Facebook being discussed by non-Burnley fans, roundly criticising the club. It’s a matter of days since we left the Championship, and we’ve already let out a little too much of the marketing-is-all attitude which pushes many away from the league theoretically above it.

It has always been the good times that attract fans, then the sense of belonging of the club that you’d hope would keep them. Not financial blackmail and being branded as ‘Burnley fans, not Premier League fans’. European models of fan loyalty rely on fan involvement and reduced prices, not the club enacting a policy which can easily be skewed in the media as a ‘tax’.

This is seemingly the opposite of Barry Kilby and the club’s ‘free season ticket’ pledge last time. The club was praised for that, and it deserves criticism for this. A real shame the club has walked this path, and an embarrassing choice.

Paul Warburton

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Though I am most likely in a significant minority, I fully support the Club’s policy on new Season Ticket sales for our Premier League campaign.

Make no mistake, I would be disappointed if I was now having to dig deep for £685 but the Club’s Early Bird sales campaign was relentless and I, along with 12,000 others, was able to renew at 2013/14 prices and I feel like I have secured Premier League football for a Championship price.

For every person that has left it til now there will be one that made a commitment in March. The price of delaying is harsh, but each one of these fans will have made a conscious decision not to sign up during the Early Bird period. Just in case we didn’t do it. Just in case they were paying for a season of Championship football. So it is right that they pay a premium, and understandable that the Club is trying to entice them for more than just one season with this much criticised “retainer”.

Freezing season ticket prices for anyone prepared to commit early was a unbelievable offer. We were favourites for promotion by that time, and on the crest of a wave. 12,000 realised just how good a deal that was!

Jon Palich

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I am amazed our club has made this decision around the latest marketing of season tickets for 2014/15.

Loyalty is priceless in the football world these days but the club are now asking potential new or returning fans to be financially loyal during tough financial times.

As a result of this marketing led policy we may get a few extra fans joining the clarets faithful on the turf next season, but I believe this policy will severely reduce that number. It may be a success in reducing the 5,000 we lost last time we were relegated, which in my mind was mainly due to the loss of Moses! However that loss may become lower this time round solely due to us actually attracting far fewer new supporters a result of adding the retainer to the supporters basket.

We have talked up “our” town “our” club and “our” turf all season and together achieved amazing results recently on and off the field. The link between the town and the club is at its strongest for years.

Now we are risking losing some of that togetherness, dividing opinions and reducing opportunities of sharing “our” premiership experience with new potential claret’s fans who could genuinely become clarets fans for life.

This financial exploitation I believe is based solely on greed and could realistically lead to many empty seats next season on the turf, which all BFC fans and management don’t want to happen.

It is a massive risk the club appears prepared to take, which could seriously backfire, and is being made for the sake of a pittance in the scheme of our potential Premier League income of at least £120 million. (Assuming the worse case situation relegation and parachute payments).

With 3,000 season tickets remaining, this unethical retainer policy could only generate a grand total of £300k additional income! The equivalent of Wayne Rooney’s weekly wage

Is it really worth risking the “our” town and “our” club mentality which has built up so much momentum recently!

Burnley is a small town club with an illustrious heritage and passionate fans, we should try at every opportunity to encourage new supporters to expand the clarets family, onwards and upwards, which in turn could help the team be successful in performing and delivering positive results on their new stage, which could be worth a further £50m if we survive the drop.

We really shouldn’t be detering or financially exploiting new supporters of our team.

The price has already been increased significantly compared to the Early bird price..opportunities to attract new supporters in todays world don’t happen very often, why waste this opportunity for the sake of £300k?

Ian Chase

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Reading what Lee Hoos is saying it’s a way for the supporters to buy into a 2yr deal, but he’s not giving them that option, instead he’s forcing their hand.

The 12,000 tickets already sold have been bought by loyal fans or fans that at least took the option and bought early, so the 5,000 or so remaining tickets are for the new fans, the premiership fans as they have been labelled.

It’s these fans he wants to keep at the end of the season and not walk away like last time, yet by doing what he is doing he seems to be only driving them away before they even get through the turnstile.

The loyal fans will buy year after year regardless so why not offer the new fans he wants to stay a more affordable deal. Why not say when you buy this years ticket you can buy next years ticket now at a discounted rate. At least that way people know where they stand as they haven’t even said what they intend to do regarding next season prices. If they hike them up again by another £100 where’s the actual saving?

And if you consider a family it could be as much as a £400 loss, which is a lot for anyone to lose. He also stated that these are based on average premiership prices, lets see how far they go with this to making us at least an average premiership team. That’s where some of the problem lies too. Going off our last time in the premiership the club showed no signs of even attempting to make the club into a premiership outfit.

By their appointment of Brian Laws when Owen Coyle left showed they had no intention of spending amd keeping the club up, it was all about the money. This has shot them in the foot as much as if not more than offering the free season tickets last time. Nobody expected them to go up then and it was an incentive to get bums on seats and money into the club and it ended up costing the club money, somewhere in the region of £2 million.

This too if they are not careful could also cost the club money by turning away the fans they seem to be so desperate to have before they even get to the turnstiles.

Gavin Griffin

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I can’t help but have mixed feelings;

Firstly, any “loyal” fans would have bought their tickets in the early bird scheme, I certainly believe that. There are always reasons that some haven’t of course but surely there are ways for the club to differentiate. From their records they could see those who have been loyal and offer a price without retainer.

I think the club have not communicated the price very well in that when I read the offer at first, it was not clear how much the cost would be. I did not appreciate that the retainer would be taken off the early bird price for 15/16 and I still don’t think people get this.

What is a real shame though is the big uplift in kids tickets.This is a chance to get kids really interested in BFC and I think the pricing will put off a parent and is a mistake.

Could the club not consult with fans representatives for opinion? This would have he!ped the board gage better the reaction of fans. I am sure they did not expect this backlash!

My thoughts therefore

Take into account historic buying history before charging retainer.

Revisit kids pricing.

In future get fan opinion.

Just my thoughts, hope you find them of interest.

Francis Bradshaw

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We three, me, my wife and youngest son, are early birders so are not affected by the new prices (at least this season). It was a struggle to get that together, as it usually is, when you have two sons at Uni, and we’ve had to drop the fourth ticket as a result, but we’ll be there. Even so, I am dismayed by the proposal and what it might say about the club in the future.

There are two issues, the price increase and the ‘retention’ fee. This latter is iniquitous. To require a deposit that becomes non-returnable if you don’t buy what is on offer is tantamount to usury. Not only that, but the club is borrowing money, without interest, at least nine months ahead of the next early bird deadline. We are used to paying for concert tickets months ahead, but at least we know we want to go. To require a deposit on something you don’t know you want to, or may be able to, buy with a proviso that you won’t get it back if you don’t, is capitalism at its nauseating worst.

The price increase is also unnerving. We have seen the early bird creep forward (or is it back) to the end of March, arguably to fund the club in the close season that is two months away. It looks like close to a 20% price hike for the Prem. I am anxious about this on a personal level but also on principal. The Guardian (2nd May) published a review of each Prem club’s finances for the 2012/13 season. Gate receipts for clubs comparable to Burnley e.g. Swansea, Wigan, Norwich, Stoke, were between 10% and 15% of overall revenue. The increased TV money can be expected to provide a larger proportion of revenue for the next three years. There is scope to make football more affordable by at least freezing prices so that the hard up can watch and the club can build its fan base. However, the Prem owners seem to me to be more interested in squeezing the pips out of the orange. I’m not sympathetic to the market logic, as though football is like any other commodity. It isn’t and it shouldn’t be treated as such. If we talk about community, and the rich clubs talk the talk, the intention should be to be as inclusive as possible.

The Premier League is consumed by greed. Billionaire owners with suspect back stories, others plundering natural resources in non-democratic states, and more grown fat on the dodgy sell-off of state assets behave as one might expect. Burnley FC is different. I’m as happy as anyone that we won promotion, not least because of the security it offers us, the chance to improve the infrastructure for the ground, the training facilities and youth system. However, I have misgivings and they’re not all centred on unhelpful kick-off times, the hype and the condescension that will come our way. I feel like I’m being invited into a dodgy night club where sirens will try to seduce me into buying watered down champagne, and tell me to forget about those who can’t get in. I don’t want Burnley FC to drop its knickers as the tills clatter. We aren’t like that - I don’t want us to lose our morals in the pursuit of cash.

Bob Nicholson

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Following the increase in season ticket prices and the comments from the chief exec I thought I would give you a Premier League fans point of view.

I am 42 married with 3 sons and have supported Burnley since I was approx 10 years old. In that time I have followed the team far and wide, mainly when we were rubbish at places like Torquay. Both myself and my wife have been season ticket holders and we enjoy a day on the turf with 2 of our 3 sons (1 is into music not football).

The last time we had season tickets was the Premier League season and we haven’t had one again since. However knowing there was a good chance they would be promoted we purchased early bird tickets for the Premier League. I guess that makes us some of the 5000+ Mr Hoos is looking to “retain.”

We are not Premier League fans we are Burnley fans, we didn’t disappear we just picked our games because unfortunately the cost of football these days means it is not an everyday purchase we can justify fitting into the budget. Its a treat we enjoy every now and again just like a day out in Blackpool or a trip to the zoo.

When the club has special offers on we tend to take advantage, the grassroots junior football club we run has access to discounted tickets a couple of times a season so we take advantage of those as well. If its one of the kids birthdays we will treat them to a match like I did this season when I took my son to the Reebok on a wet Tuesday evening.

However getting to the Premier league is not something that is going to happen very often so when it does we push the boat out so the kids can enjoy watching the players they only usually see on match of the day playing at the Turf.

This years prices haven’t affected us because we got in early but if Burnley Football club think whacking up the prices is going to encourage fans like us to stick with them they are seriously mistaken its just going to make it less affordable and staying away and cherry picking games an easier option.

When committing to buying a season ticket we are doing so in the knowledge that may be the difference between enjoying a foreign holiday or going to Haven for a few days and my wife doesn’t like Caravans.

Jason Bradley

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The only people who are disgusted about the increase in prices, are those fairweather supporters who waited to see if Burnley made it into the Premier League before buying their tickets.

I’m assuming the £100 retainer is to try and hang on to those supporters, should we go back down.

Those of us who have stuck with Burnley through thick and thin had bought our season tickets long before the deadline.

Kathryn Halton

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Last season I thought your ticket pricing was over the top for the championship, hence alot of people not going on. So what do you do this season coming....... pump up the prices again!

Not to worry, I was here long before you came and once you have lined your pockets and disappeared, I will be here when you have gone.

Ian Ellis

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Whilst I see what they are trying to achieve, the view that 5,000 fans turned up for the PL season last time and haven’t been since is incredibly naïve.

I would be staggered if a single one of them hadn’t been to Turf Moor since. But instead of committing to a season ticket, they are instead picking and choosing games that suit their lives and circumstances.

I think there is a risk of alienating those fans further, by effectively accusing them of being ‘inferior fans’ for not buying a season ticket since.

I am not against the concept of trying to engender loyalty, but think this is a poorly thought through approach.

David Whitney

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He just doesn’t get it does he... the idea of having £100 quid knocked off next year... it isn’t knocked off... you’ve already paid it.

On radio the idea that a family of four paying the new price makes it peanuts (his word) next year is ludicrous.

There is no justification for charging £685 in a place like Burnley.

What was the old slogan - the club for its people... not any more.

Glib and facile I’m afraid... ‘hey guys stick with us for 2 years and we’ll reward loyalty.’ (his words on radio)

Reward is having a genuine £100 knocked off, not £100 you have already paid.

£685 - crazy

Dave Thomas

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Fair enough seems like a good move, although fans waiting to see if we slipped up before taking the plunge and commit to a season ticket whatever happened will be well upset.

Peter Biddulph

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I think it’s a really good idea already looked after your loyal fans with the early bird offer. This way the fair weather fan pays more for the Premiership season when they might not have been back since the last time they were in the Premiership Well Done Burnley loyalty pays and this is from a Blackburn Fan see you all back for Championship 2015/2016.

Steven Whiteside

 

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